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Monday, September 27, 2010

U.S. Wants Broader Internet Wiretap Authority

The Obama administration is developing plans that would require all Internet-based communication services such as encrypted BlackBerry e-mail, Facebook, and Skype to be capable of complying with federal wiretap orders, according to a report published Monday.

The bill, which the White House plans to deliver to Congress next year, would require communication service providers be technically capable of intercepting and decrypting messages, raising serious privacy concerns, the Times said.

The proposal has "huge implications" and poses a test to the "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution," vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, James Dempsey, told the Times. "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function," he was quoted as saying. Officials contend, however, that without new regulations their ability to prevent attacks could be hindered.

Internet and phone networks are already required to have eavesdropping abilities thanks to a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, but the mandate does not apply to communication service providers.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Facebook outage spotlights social media addiction

Frustrated Facebook users find themselves jonesing for updates when site crashes. Industry watchers say Facebook users suffering through the two-and-a-half-hour outage were like drug addicts going through withdrawal. Facebook's more than 500 million users have grown accustomed to sharing updates about their cats and colleagues, and posting funny pictures of drunken friends and kids acting silly. They certainly don't like it when the social networking site goes down.

This past summer, a report from The Oxygen Media Insights Group, which is part of a company that focuses on Web sites for women, noted that a majority of the women in a survey said they are addicted to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. More than half (57%) of the women polled said they communicate with people more online than they do face to face, and 39% called themselves Facebook addicts.And analysts say social media's addictive qualities aren't only catnip for women. Men are also posting, uploading and checking out news feeds throughout the day.

While some users joked that U.S. worker productivity might skyrocket without Facebook, others said that instead of focusing on work, they spent their time complaining about the outage.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Twitter Hack Started With `Rainbow Tweets,' High School Student Says

A person in Australia, who claims to be the center of an incident that impaired service on Twitter Inc.’s website for thousands of users, said he had no malicious intent when he disclosed a security weakness to others. A Twitter user identifying himself as Pearce Delphin, a 17- year-old high school student in Melbourne, said in an e-mail interview that he saw the potential for trouble in the short messages of another user in Japan.

As a test, Delphin said he created messages containing the Javascript command “onmousover,” which displayed the words “uh oh” when a mouse was dragged over it. Hackers, who saw his demonstration model on Sept. 21, tweaked the code to direct people to pornography websites and to create malicious software, or “worms,” that copied themselves into the message stream of anyone mousing over them. He said he didn’t write malicious code himself.

Twitter said in the blog post that the security flaw was identified and repaired about a month before the incident. It resurfaced following a software update, the company said.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Google Docs is going mobile

Google has announced that mobile document editing will soon come to mobile users. First will come a new verification process that will reduce the reliance on passwords and increase the security of connections. But "in the next few weeks," document editing will come to Android and the iPad.

Google has provided almost no details of the editing capability, though it did show a demonstration at its Atmosphere event in Paris.

For corporate users, Google has launched two-factor authentication for mobile users. One of the factors is the mobile device itself, but it's still a step up from securing solely against a password. That feature is available to enterprise users immediately.

Mobile document editing is an enviable consequence of Android's move into the tablet space, and Google's provision for the iPad (no mention of iPhone support) is unsurprising as the company seeks to make cloud editing standard.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yahoo and Microsoft gain little ground on Google

New Internet search partners Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. left a small dent in Google Inc.'s market dominance last month. Google ended August with a 65.4 percent share of the U.S. search market, down from 65.8 percent, based on an analysis by the research firm comScore Inc.

The share that Google lost in August went to Yahoo and Microsoft, which are teaming up in an attempt to pose a more formidable challenge to Google. Yahoo's website in the U.S. switched over to Microsoft's search technology in late August as part of a partnership that is supposed to last for the next decade.

Yahoo ranked second with U.S. search share of 17.4 percent last month, up from 17.1 percent in July. Microsoft's Bing processed 11.1 percent of U.S. searches in August, up from 11 percent in July.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Microsoft, Intel tout faster IE9 graphics

Recent Microsoft and Intel primers on Internet Explorer 9's accelerated graphics point to snappier Web browsing.

In a blog posted on Friday, Microsoft spelled out what it says are the merits of "full vs. partial acceleration," while Intel, in a new video, is claiming IE9 acceleration on its Core i series of chips, which will include new Sandy Bridge processors.

Graphics chip-based acceleration (Microsoft calls it "hardware acceleration") shifts some tasks from the main processor (CPU) to the graphics processor (GPU). Mainstream GPUs pack in dozens or even hundreds of processing cores. While each GPU core delivers a tiny fraction of the processing power of a CPU core, combined, they can tackle certain tasks much more quickly and efficiently than a CPU. Intel, for its part, has improved the built-in graphics on its Core i series of processors and will integrate its fastest graphics function yet onto the CPU in its upcoming Sandy Bridge processor.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Google TV Goes Worldwide In 2011

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that his company's forthcoming Google TV service will be made available to customers around the globe in 2011. Sony is expected to deliver the first Google TV devices -- a standalone TV model and set-top box with an integrated Blu-ray Disc drive.

Google has said it plans to deliver Android Market support and the Google TV SDK for Android in early 2011. That means Google TV devices next year will be able to utilize apps created by independent developers. Samsung may begin making Google TV devices, too, Bloomberg reports. Samsung hasn't managed to create a developer land rush to rival Apple's or Google's respective mobile platforms.

Apple last week introduced an updated $99 version of its Apple TV device, which allows users to rent movies and TV shows through iTunes and to stream content from Netflix, Flickr, YouTube, and other online services.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Is Apple's Ping a Haven for Spammers?

It seems Apple is getting into the social networking business, God help them. Among the other life changing products rolled out at this week's semi-annual Apple fanboyfest was "Ping," a service that lets you see what music the other 160 million people using iTunes like and recommend.

Turns out that Ping is a spammer-scammer's heaven. By all reports, Ping users are getting dinged with the same kinds of URL-baiting comment spam we've grown so fond of elsewhere on the blogosphere. Apple is filtering Ping for other offensive material (such as nude profile photos), but it forgot about spam. Or maybe Apple believes its users truly are the Chosen People and that, like malware, spam simply doesn't touch them. It's probably just those Windows iTunes Untouchables that are having the problems. Unfortunately, there appears to be no easy fix for the comment spam.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Why WebOS 2.0 Should Have Rivals Worried

An early release of WebOS 2.0 for developers demonstrates that the mobile OS still has some life in it, and indicates that new WebOS devices are on the horizon. Rival platforms should be prepared for another strong player in the smartphone and tablet arenas, and avoid counting WebOS out too quickly.

Suffice it to say there are some unique features that bring some pizazz to WebOS 2.0, but none of the details for the new WebOS suggest that there is anything groundbreaking about it as a mobile OS. So, should Apple, Google, RIM, or Microsoft even pay attention to WebOS? Rivals don't need to be concerned about WebOS in and of itself, but the combination of WebOS with the marketing and distribution power of HP is another story.

Some have argued (and many still do) that WebOS is a technically superior mobile operating system than Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or any other smartphone OS on the market. Whether or not that is true, Palm was unsuccessful at taking any significant chunk of the smartphone market and was eventually bought by HP.

Now, WebOS has a second chance--and this time it has the marketing credibility and established sales and distribution channels of HP on its side. An excellent technology with poor marketing is doomed. A poor technology with excellent marketing can succeed. An innovative technology with superior marketing is virtually guaranteed.

WebOS 2.0 is expected to be available by the end of this year. There are nohardware specs for new WebOS smartphones, tablets, or other devices yet, but, its coming soon and competing platforms have reason to be concerned.

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